Saturday, May 20, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 15

Today's writing prompt is one that is near and dear to my heart.

What do you love most about where you live now? What would you change about it?

My husband and I lived in two apartments and a duplex before purchasing our first home in 1982. In addition to being small, it was located on a busy street corner. Once we had our son, we began to outgrow the house so we looked for something larger on a quieter street. We saw many houses before walking into the one where we both looked at each other and said, "This is it!"

house in 1987
We were able to see beyond the ugly mint green paint color and the flamingo pink doors. We looked around the outdated kitchen and bathrooms, the horrendous wall paper that covered nearly every wall and some ceilings, and the worn blue carpet. The stacks of papers and clutter could not disguise the beautiful bones of this aging lady. The lot was huge and shaded and just waiting for a little boy to chase balls and fireflies again. Though the house sale was going through a trust in a closed bidding process, the tiny, elderly woman who had spent nearly 50 years raising her family in the home was going to make the final decision on who would next be the caretaker. We never knew if we had put in the highest bid or the lowest bid, but the realtor said that Hazel picked us because she wanted a family to again live in the house.

house as built in 1902
What I love most about the house is its history, which I researched extensively in order to obtain a century home plaque from our city. Though built in 1902, we are only the third owners. That is pretty incredible, when you think of it. The family who built the house lived here 36 years, and the next family 49 years. We are still the new kids on the block with 30 years under its roof. Unfortunately the people we purchased the home from sold off the southern half of the lot shortly after they purchased the property in 1938, which allowed a smaller house to be built next door. The early photograph above shows a stable on that part of the land. How lovely it would have been to keep the lot whole, with native plant material.

Nevertheless, this house welcomed our family with open arms and has embraced us throughout the years. Descendants of the other two owners have come to visit, and it has been fun to hear their stories about why certain things were done to the house. We have made our own modifications to suit the needs of our family, trying to maintain the original character. We no longer need this large of a house as our kids are grown and gone. And someday we won't want to climb all the stairs. Then someone else will have a chance to make their memories and leave their mark on this aging beauty.

April 2016

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 14

Tomorrow is Mother's Day, so of course I needed a writing prompt based on moms for today's post.

How would you describe your relationship with your mother - either now or in the past?

As mentioned in the last post, my mom and I were very close. That may be because I was the baby of the family, or maybe we were alike in personality and temperament. Whatever the reason, I loved spending time with her. She taught me how to sew, and tried teaching me to knit and crochet. The last two didn't catch on with me, however. She was an extremely talented bowler and golfer, and was quite an artist - more skills that did not pass on to me.

She made friends easily and had a wonderful sense of humor, which I think helped her survive a marriage that wasn't always smooth. My dad had a short temper, and being around him at times was like walking on eggshells. But mom was somehow able to laugh things off, usually.

My mom tried her best to attend my softball games in junior high, and my marching events and plays when I reached high school. She didn't always have a car, but when she did she was there for me. I brought her up to Iowa State for a mother's weekend that my dorm planned, and she had such a blast! She had never been able to attend college herself, so she was thrilled to get a little taste of it.

all my family in 1978
We enjoyed working together while planning my wedding, and she helped me modify a dress pattern so that I could make my own wedding dress. She crocheted all the lace for the dress, patterning it off the design on the veil she and I had scored on the clearance rack at Younkers for the bargain price of $7.50! That was 1/10 the price it was originally marked. She also made the dress for the junior bridesmaid and the vests for the two ring bearers.

Mom was the one who advised me not to rush into having kids. She told me we should enjoy each other as a couple, travel and get established in our jobs, because once the kids came along things would change. She and dad, like most people of their generation, immediately started their families once they got married. Maybe it was easy for her to say that because my older siblings had already supplied her with five grandchildren by the time we got married. 
Andy and mom 1985

When I had Andy, our first baby, she and dad drove over to help out, which was a godsend as I developed an all over rash post-delivery that necessitated a trip to the dermatology department of a research hospital, biopsies and a regimen of prednisone. They took care of the baby while I fought that weird postpartum skin disorder.

Andy was only four when mom died, and she never got to meet her namesake, Kathryn. I felt, and still feel, cheated. Cheated out of my time with her, and so incredibly sad that her grandchildren never got to know this vibrant, funny woman who gave me not only life and a sense of humor, but also my sense of who I am.


Saturday, May 6, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 13

What are some of the most momentous events in your life that have shaped you into the person you are today?

This is a very thought-provoking question, isn't it? The first thing that comes to mind is going away to college, since this definitely led to the second big event in my life. Even though I was the baby of the family, I think that I was fairly independent as a teenager. But college life certainly put me in a position to have to make my own decisions, budget my finances, and do my own cleaning and laundry all while juggling classes and a job. It was really the first step toward leaving home.

As I have written about previously, I met my husband at college. Getting married certainly qualifies as a momentous event. The reality sets in that you are leaving your mom and dad, and the relationship with them will never be quite the same. That's not a bad thing, necessarily, but it is certainly different. Instead of seeking their advice and council, you now turn to your spouse. Going from being a party of one to a party of two takes some adjustment and compromise. I'm not sure anything prepares you properly for the whole marriage deal.

Mom and me 1978
Without a doubt the thing that impacted me the most (so far) in my life was losing my mom when I was only 33. My mother and I had an incredibly close relationship. We rarely fought, even through the teenage angst years. Like most young people caught up in the day to day issues of work and parenting, I took having my mom in my life for granted. I thought we had years to enjoy each other's company. That all changed in the blink of an eye.

At that point I realized that so much of what we worry about, complain about, and get worked up about is inconsequential in the big scheme of things. Life is, indeed, very short. I have really tried to live in the moment, and not let little things bother me. I'm not always successful, but I think I am a happier person because of this philosophy.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 12

The writing prompt for this week involves hobbies.

Do you like to dabble in lots of different hobbies? Is so, what are they? Or do you have one primary pastime that takes up most of your free hours and energy?

Kodak Instamatic
Hobbies are very much a part of my life. Some of them, such as needlework, carry over from when I was younger, but others I became interested in as I got older. Taking photos is something I've done since my sister gave me a Kodak Instamatic camera when I was in grade school. I progressed to a 35 mm film camera in college, and now work exclusively with digital cameras. I joined a female photography group, and have met some exceptional women and enjoy participating in the group photography shows. I am super excited and proud that my photos will be appearing in an upcoming print and ebook on reducing stress!

Michael and Anna Cramer
My interest in genealogy started when my mom died unexpectedly in 1989 at the age of 69. At that point I realized that if I wanted to capture the stories and memories of the older generations in my family, I better get started. Since that beginning in 1989 I have taken many genealogy research trips, spent hours digging through online files, connected with relatives that I didn't even know I had, and submitted my saliva for DNA analysis. I also enjoy doing research for other people, and am currently looking into the family of a man who was supposedly possessed by the devil. I'm pretty happy that his name is not in my family tree. Pictured here are my second great-grandparents on my dad's side.

50th Anniversary quilt
I began making quilts back in 2002 when I got the crazy idea to make my mother and father-in-law a quilt for their 50th wedding anniversary. No pressure! I had important photographs and documents reprinted onto fabric, and then used some quilt squares that my mother-in-law's mother had made and incorporated those into the quilt. I hand embroidered dates and their names onto the border. Since that first quilt, I have made close to 30 quilts. While quilting strains my mathematically challenged brain, it also brings out my creative side in ways I didn't know I possessed.

pickleball shirt
My latest hobby fortunately combines fitness as well as fun. Two years ago I was introduced to pickleball, a court game that includes elements of tennis, badminton and ping pong. The ball resembles a whiffle ball, and the paddle is like an oversized ping pong paddle. It is touted as the fastest growing sport in America, and it's not just for old people anymore. A lot of younger players have discovered how fast and strategic the game can be. I try to play 3 times a week, and for me getting to socialize with people is just as important as the workout since I have my office in my house.

The best part about all of my hobbies is that each one of them is something that I can continue to do the rest of my life, assuming my health and eyesight remain good.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 11

My husband and I are preparing for an epic travel adventure, so this particular writing prompt struck a cord with me.

If you could make a good living doing the one thing you love most in the world, what would it be?

Mazatlan
Because I love to travel and often photograph and write about my experiences, I would absolutely love to be a travel blogger. I know a number of people who do actually make a living doing exactly that. How great would it be to have someone else pay for your travel expenses in return for providing photos and reviews of the places you have been?

I already am a top reviewer for TripAdvisor as I use that site extensively whenever I am planning a trip, whether in my own town or abroad. So I have always felt it was important for me to contribute reviews as well to help other travelers. But I don't get paid for that, of course, and that is what makes the site so valuable. The reviews are honest opinions from people who visited, stayed or ate at the places listed on the site.

But if an opportunity came along for me to have my expenses paid in exchange for blogging about where I've been and what I did there, I would jump at the chance!